This chapter brings us to the story of the paralytic, being brought to Jesus by his friends. Jesus demonstrates that the forgiveness of sins is a greater than physical healing.
Ponder the reality of this story. Imagine the paralytic, lying on his bed… each day… while others lived their lives, provided for their families, hugged their children, danced at weddings, ran through hurried life … What kind of bitterness, anger, malice did this produce? The paralysis of the soul can perhaps be greater than that of the limbs.
What did it feel like for Jesus to say, “Son, your sins are forgiven?” Son… as a father addresses a child… And what sin? How deep did this declaration go? Did these words touch him – bring healing to the core? Was this a greater freedom than to be able to walk? Healing without the forgiveness of sin still ends in death. Jesus’ declaration was life giving.
And did you notice the Pharisees? They keep popping up everywhere. The text tells us that Jesus knew what they were thinking. Later, when he’s having dinner with Levi and the other ‘sinners’, the Pharisees are there again, perhaps peeking in a window like nosy neighbours. Jesus response to them here is noteworthy: “I have come not to call the righteous, but sinners.” The Pharisees didn’t see themselves as sinners… was Jesus telling them that He didn’t come for them?
The rest of the chapter focused on some of the traditions of the faith – of fasting and the observance of the Sabbath. Jesus challenged the religious leaders to consider new wine, and new wineskins. What are the wineskins (traditions, opinions, rules) that we are being asked to discard? What is it that we need to give up to be filled with new wine?
And what about the Sabbath? Do we observe it with rules? Or, have we thrown it out as somewhat irrelevant? Do we recognize that it’s given to us as a gift – a gift of God’s presence to be unwrapped and embraced?
I pray that you will find the time to embrace the gift of God’s presence as you engage His Word. What is God saying to you as you read this week?